From Awareness Times Newspaper in
In Sierra Leone, Health Minister Appeals to Workers for Restraint
By Aruna Turay
Oct 11, 2010, 12:42
The Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Mohamed Daudis Koroma on Thursday 7th October 2010 told aggrieved members of the Sierra Leone Health Services Workers’ Union (SLHSWU) to exercise restraint and see reason to cancel their planned strike action against government.
He was addressing a cross section of members of the executive of the Union at the conference room of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Youyi Building in Freetown, following a strongly worded letter sent to the ministry warning of an imminent strike action if their concerned were not addressed.
The workers’ union executive agitated in the letter of complaint addressed to the senior permanent secretary in that ministry for some categories of workers, notably, nursing aides, porters, securities, drivers, clerks, cleaners and laborers who are being currently excluded from the approved pay package by the government of Sierra Leone in line with the free health care delivery service.
The meeting attracted most of the affected workers and the full membership of the executive.
In the meeting, the National Secretary General for the union Mr. Ansu Rashid Kalokoh highlighted their complaints that they were waiting for long for consideration through the vice president without success. He said the Government through the ministry has willfully omitted the names of the above category of health workers for the new pay package without advancing any substantive explanation. He said in addition, the workers are also faced with constraints such as shortages in the supply of rain boots, uniforms and other protective gears among others.
The Honorable Minister shared their plight and apologized to the union, noting that he would be very instrumental in forwarding their complaints to the appropriate authorities. He said most of what they had brought forward as concerns had never been brought to his knowledge before. According to him, there is a special budget put aside for the purchase of working gears by his ministry. “But I have already instructed the Permanent Secretary to record the names of all the health workers that lack protective working gears to ensure they all got what due them,” he disclosed. He however, hastened to inform them that the issue of their inclusion in the new pay package was above him. “That mandate is only vested in President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.”
He however assured them that he would facilitate their having audience with the president to put their points forward after meeting certain protocols. He took the opportunity to admonish the union executive to caution members to take their work serious, adding that in most instances, a good number of these workers refuse to show up for work.
In response, the union’s National Secretary General Mr. Ansu Rashid Kalokoh heartily welcomed the minister’s apology and promised that they would go again to the drawing board within their membership to inform them of the development.
© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.